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Sep
4
2013

4 Pesky Features in Windows 8 - And How to Disable Them

It’s creeping up on a year since Microsoft unleashed Windows 8. While previous versions of Windows operating systems such as XP, Vista, and Windows 7 came with their own changes, upgrades, and (I’m looking at you, Vista) problems, Windows 8 has ushered in an era of sweeping change to the user experience.

PC users are sharply divided in their opinions of Windows 8 and there is a very vocal contingent of users who dislike it, citing they found it confusing to learn. One high-profile member of the “We Hate Windows 8” camp is Gabe Newell, a former long-time Microsoft employee and co-founder of Valve. Newell heralded Windows 8 as a “catastrophe.”

While many users may not feel that strongly about Microsoft’s latest offering, Windows 8’s touchscreen technology and new features have posed problems for users who favor a keyboard / mouse setup. That said, PC users do have the ability to turn off some of Windows 8’s more annoying features. Here are four fixes to features that have drawn the most ire from those who have forged a love-hate relationship with Windows 8.

1. Make the Invisible Start Menu Reappear

Windows 8’s Start button is like the “Where’s Waldo” of applications: It’s nowhere to be found. There’s just a sad, empty, left-hand corner of a live-tiled screen where the Start button used to be. Some developers have come up with third-party tools such as the Classic Shell, Start 8, or Windows 8 Start Menu Toggle apps to create a look similar to the familiar interface of Windows versions of the past. The developer version of Windows 8 offered a registry hack to bring back the Start button, however, that’s since been disabled.

You can, however, create a Windows Start Toolbar, transforming the menu into something a bit more familiar by following these steps:

  1. Enable “show hidden files”
  2. Right click on the taskbar → “Toolbars” → “New Toolbar”
  3. From there, go to C:\Program Data\Microsoft\Windows
  4. Choose “Start Menu” → “Select Folder”

This will create a brand, spankin’ new Start Menu folder that allows you to view many of your programs in the way the old “All Programs” feature of previous releases showed.

2. The Recycle Bin: Why Don’t You Ask Me First?!

Another big change that came with Windows 8 concerns the deletion of files. In prior versions, a little screen would pop up to ask: “Are you sure you want to delete this file?” Users had the option to click “yes” or “no” to verify that their finger didn’t accidentally slip or to be sure that they were deleting the right file -- or that you weren’t deleting a bunch of files at once.

Fast forward to the present and Windows 8 no longer asks if you’re sure you want to delete a file. It just does it.

While this is great for productivity junkies who can’t spare a single second to confirm they’re deleting the file, it does pose a problem if you accidentally send your file to the recycle bin.

If you want to bring back the old school verification message in Windows 8, you have the option to do so by executing the following steps:

  1. Right click on the Recycle Bin
  2. Choose “Properties”
  3. Click the “Display delete confirmation dialog” checkbox
  4. Hit “OK” to confirm

Once again, Windows 8 can be made safe for butterfingers everywhere!

3. The Lock Screen

While the touchscreen compatibility of Windows 8 makes the lock screen feature a necessity for tablets, it only creates one more unnecessary click-through to hurdle on a PC. Whether you want to log in or wake up your computer, that lock screen is always in the way. Let’s get rid of it!

The lock screen can easily disabled for your PC. Simply:

  1. Press “Windows key” + “R” to open the “Run” command box
  2. Once you see the box, type “gpedit.msc”
  3. Click “Enter.” This will open the “Local Group Policy Editor”
  4. Once inside this menu, search for “Computer Configuration” → Administrative Templates → Control Panel → Personalization
  5. Double-click the option for “Do Not Display the Lock Screen” and choose the “Enabled” button.

4. What If I Don’t Want To Use Bing?

Of course Microsoft was going to equip its latest rollout with some of its homegrown products, namely Bing and Internet Explorer.  While Bing certainly has its merits, Windows 8 users may want to make Google their default search engine -- possibly due to Window’s 8 Bing app automatically opening up in a separate app from the Bing search Metro app on your start screen.
If you prefer Bing and its pretty background graphics to Google and its doodles, you can skip this step. However, if you want your Google back, you can open your IE browser and type in the URL: “getyourgoogleback.com” (which redirects to http://www.google.com/homepage/windows8/ ). From there, you just follow the videos and prompts to help you install Google among your start-screen tiles, as well as instructions for downloading Chrome for Windows 8.
If you still want to stick with Bing as your default search engine, there is a way to keep it from opening up a separate app on your screen. Simply pin the Bing website to your start screen and use your browser to search.

Whether you’re a fan of Windows 8 or have chugged the Hatorade with regard to Microsoft’s latest OS, the fact of the matter is it’s not going away. We may be a few years away from a brand new Windows OS -- so you better get used to it! Hopefully, these quick fixes may help make for a more user-friendly experience of Windows 8 for those who use it and give folks options to tailor it to their needs.

What are your thoughts on Windows 8? Do you have a fix to a Windows 8 annoyance that we didn’t list here? Please share yours in the comments below!

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